Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report

September 10, 2018

Team Penske Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Report

Track:               Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Race:                 Big Machine Vodka 400 At The Brickyard
Date:                 September 10, 2018 


No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Fusion – Brad Keselowski

Start: 6th
Stage 1: 6th
Stage 2: 7th
Finish: 1st – (26th career MENCS Victory)
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 160/160
Laps Led: 9
Driver Playoff Standings (behind leader): 4th (-31)


  • Brad Keselowski passed Denny Hamlin at the entrance to Turn 3 with two laps to go to win the Big Machine Vodka 400 At The Brickyard Monday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  The win was the first NASCAR Cup series victory for car owner Roger Penske at the 2.5-mile speedway and the 499th overall for Team Penske. It also moved Keselowski to just one win from tying Mark Donohue for most all-time wins by a Team Penske driver.  
  • A nifty pit call by crew chief Paul Wolfe put Keselowski in position to win the race. At Wolfe's direction, Keselowski was the final car to pit during a cycle of green flag stops. He took the lead on lap 136 and stayed there before pitting on lap 143. Moments after Keselowski pulled down pit road, the ninth caution flag waved, allowing Keselowski – armed with fresher tires – to restart seventh when the race went green on lap 148.
  • The driver of the Discount Tire Ford Fusion wasted no time working his way to the front. He stormed through traffic and was up to third-place when the tenth and final yellow flag slowed the pace on lap 155.  Keselowski lined up third for the final restart on lap 157. Race leader Hamlin and Keselowski scampered away on the restart. Keselowski darted to the inside of Hamlin at the entrance to Turn 3. The two nearly made contact, but Keselowski had position on Hamlin at the entrance to the corner. He cleared Hamlin between Turns 3 and 4 and led the final two laps, officially crossing the finish line .904 seconds ahead of Hamlin.
  • The victory was the 26th for Keselowski in 331 MENCS races. He scored his first victory in nine starts at Indianapolis. It was the first win at Indy for Ford since Dale Jarrett's win in 1999.
  • After Monday's win, Keselowski has now reeled off three NASCAR national series victories in the last nine days, including last weekend's sweep at Darlington Raceway. 

Quote: "My crew chief Paul Wolfe made a heck of a call there to pit late in that run. We had new tires for that restart. Our Discount Tire Ford wasn't dominate by any means but Paul and everyone on the team executed an incredible race. They never gave up on it and made the most of the strategy. I just had to do my job and here I am in victory lane at the Brickyard. To give Roger Penske his first Cup win here at the Brickyard is just an incredible feeling. This the first win for Discount Tire in the Cup Series which is great. That is something I am so proud of." 


No. 12 BODYARMOR Ford Fusion – Ryan Blaney

Start: 9th
Stage 1: 22nd
Stage 2: 25th
Finish: 11th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 160/160
Laps Led: 1
Playoff Standings (behind first): 9th (-43)


  • Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 BODYARMOR Ford Fusion team started Monday afternoon's Brickyard 400 from the ninth position. Due to the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon teams had no practice or qualifying prior to the event.
  • Blaney reported early that his Ford Fusion was very tight on corner exit. He was able to gain several spots before the first of two competition cautions came out on lap 10. When the pits opened, crew chief Jeremy Bullins called for multiple adjustments including air pressure, track bar and a piece of tape on the nose. The changes did not make a huge difference and when the second competition caution came out on lap 30, the BODYARMOR crew made additional air pressure adjustments.
  • The next stop came near the end of stage 1 on lap 42 and Blaney's left front nose made slight contact with teammate Brad Keselowski on pit road which caused minor damage to both cars. Blaney would finish stage 1 in the 22nd position.
  • During the stage break the BODYARMOR crew made repairs to the nose and got him back on the track. To regain very important track position, Bullins opted for a two tire strategy to get Blaney near the front of the field. He still reported that he was tight, but the clean air helped the handling of his Ford Fusion. Blaney came to pit road on lap 96 for service, four laps shy of the stage 2 checkered flag. He would finish the stage in the 25th position.
  • With good track position, the handling of the BODYARMOR Ford remained consistent and Blaney came pit road again on lap 130 for green flag service, unfortunately the 24-year-old driver overshot his pit stall and had to back up losing valuable time in the process.
  • The help of a couple additional cautions helped Blaney make ground lost and when the checkered flag waived, Blaney crossed the finish line in 11th position. This was an Indianapolis-best Cup Series finish for him.
  • Blaney begins the NASCAR Playoffs next week in Las Vegas as the ninth seed in the Round of 16.

Quote: "We were running fourth or fifth there and green flag stops came and I missed my box.  I went to the wrong box.  I went to the 22 box like I was in the XFINITY race and missed mine.  The bad thing was they were both set up the exact same in each race.  The 12 was before the 22, so I had to come around the 12 in the XFINITY race and I just had a brain fart and cost us a bunch of time.  That was dumb on my part, but I thought we had a fourth or fifth-place car today, and you never know how it would have played out at the end.  It stinks, but it's cool that Team Penske got one car to win here.  That's cool for that team, but we'll put all this behind us and go to Vegas.  That should be a pretty good track for us."


No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion – Joey Logano

Start:  5th
Stage 1: 21st
Stage 2: 4th                
Finish:  13th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 160/160
Laps Led: 0
Playoff Standings (behind first): 6th (-36)  


  • Joey Logano started fifth and finished 13th in Monday afternoon's Big Machine Vodka 400 At The Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion for Team Penske. During the opening 10-lap run, Logano reported his Ford Fusion was tight through the center of the corners and extremely loose on corner exit. On the first pit stop at lap 12, the team elected to adjust with two rounds of wedge, adding fuel and changing four tires.
  • During the second run of the race, Logano reported that the front of the car simply would not turn. Crew chief Todd Gordon elected to make a left front shock change on the second stop, with air pressure adjustments to the front tires and adding tape to the nose. Logano had fallen from the top-five to the 18th position. The lengthy pit stop would line Logano up in 34th position for the restart.
  • Logano and the team would pit an additional time on a caution period right before the conclusion of stage 1, putting them in position to stay out with only four laps on their tires at the stage break. The team would restart in the 10th position with Logano settling in to 12th before a caution flag at lap 56. Logano again reported he was struggling with center turn and drive off the corners.
  • Through the second stage, Logano continued to battle a tight car in the center of the turns while being free off. Through pit strategy, the team cycled forward, finishing the stage in the fourth position. Under the stage ending caution, crew chief Todd Gordon called for a substantial wedge and air pressure adjustment to the left side of the car, looking to give Logano the mechanical grip he needed.
  • Logano reported the overall handling of the Shell-Pennzoil Ford had improved through the race with the team's adjustments, and with a caution at lap 144, the team elected to pit and make another substantial air pressure adjustment. The team would restart in the 17th position with mixed strategies ahead of the team.
  • Late contact with the No. 3 car dropped Logano to the 22nd position, forcing him to battle back to the 20th position before another caution at lap 153. Logano and the team would rally back to finish 13th, putting the cap on a day where their championship perseverance was put to the test.

Quote:  "Obviously a huge win for Team Penske. The first Brickyard 400 for the company and congratulations to my teammate Brad (Keselowski) on that win. It's a race Roger has wanted to win for a long time and I'm happy for him, and win 499 for the team. We had our struggles today on the 22 team, but the Shell-Pennzoil guys never gave up and they worked hard all race long to try and improve our car. We'll focus on the starting the playoffs strong at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next week."